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Using Calcidius's Commentarius In Carolingian Astronomy

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Chapter Summary

The fourth-century commentary by Calcidius on Plato’s Timaeus is offered far more astronomy. The Calcidian sections follow with detailed, frequently geometrical, descriptions of the planetary motions, including epicyclic and eccentric patterns. The second chapter of the Compend is provided with Carolingians with their first useful account of an epicyclic planetary orbit, something not to be found in Capella’s text. The third chapter of the Paris Compend, “On the Various Rising and Setting of the Planets”, presents concisely the rising and setting phenomena from Calcidius and Pliny. The early manuscripts of Calcidius’s commentary with diagrams are limited in number but informative. This chapter looks primarily at seven of these Calcidian texts, dating from the ninth to the opening of the eleventh century. We therefore find that, as the Sun moves uniformly on its circle, it appears to move through the zodiac on corresponding arcs.

Keywords: Calcidius’s commentarius; Carolingian Astronomy; Commentarius; manuscript; planetary motion; sun; zodiacal circle



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